(Pocket-lint) - If you're looking at a budget Android phone, chances are you've come across a Moto G of some description. It's long been one of the most popular ranges of phones for people looking to spend under £250 on a phone. For 2020, that range includes an array of different models, but they're not the only clean-Android-running devices on the market that are affordable.
Nokia has introduced its own budget Android models over the past few years, and one of the latest is the Nokia 5.3. So how does it compare to the standard G8?
Look down the spec sheet and you might assume these two phones are almost exactly alike. But as we know, an experience of a phone isn't had by just reading numbers on a factsheet. The experience of using the two phones is different.
- Nokia - 164.3 x 76.6 x 8.5mm
- Moto - 161.3 x 75.8 x 9mm
- Nokia - 185g
- Moto - 188.3g
- Both glass front and plastic back
- Rear physical fingerprint sensors on both
At this end of the smartphone market, you don't get all metal and glass, premium materials and excuisite detailing. So it's no surprise here that both phones are built using plastic frames and rear panels. Moto went with a glossy plastic, while Nokia went with a more matte, frosted look.
This matte plastic has a lovely soft finish, and feels great in the hand, especially when combined with the perceived thinness of the phone. While it's only slightly thinner than the Moto, the difference in the angle of the curves on the back, and thinness of the edges makes it more comfortable to hold.
Buttons and ports are mostly the same, but Nokia has a couple of nice touches here too. There’s a dedicated button on the left for launching Google Assistant, and the power button on the right pulses with a subtle white light when you have notifications waiting.
Both have a fingerprint sensor on the back, and we’ve found Moto’s to be a bit more reliable, and a bit more responsive when it comes to swiping it down to get to notifications.
On the front, both phones have similarly thin bezels around the display, with a thicker 'chin' on the bottom. Moto, however, has a more modern hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera, where Nokia has a small dewdrop style notch.
- Nokia - 6.55-inch LCD panel
- Moto - 6.4-inch LCD panel
- Nokia - 720 x 1600 resolution
- Moto - 720 x 1560 resolution
- Both - 268 pixels per inch
Both phones have a 720p display. The exact technical specs aren’t the same - for instance - Nokia has 40 more pixels vertically but the pixel density is the same on both, because Nokia has a longer aspect ratio. That also means it measures 6.55 inches, vs. Motorola’s 6.4-inches.
So when you’re watching content, you’ll see that sharpness is pretty much the same. That’s to say, fine details do get a little rough, especially when you view them up close. But, at this end of the smartphone market, you expect that.
What is different is the way they process colours. Overall, with both in their default settings, the Motorola was more vibrant, and often made lighter areas look a lot more washed out, while the Moto was deeper and more colour rich.
On the same note, white backgrounds behind app icons and menus was a lot cleaner and brighter on the Moto G8 too. And that was with the G8 set in its default, natural setting. It has a more vivid one you can choose, if you want to.
Performance and hardware
- Both - Snapdragon 665 processor
- Nokia - 3GB, 4GB or 6GB RAM
- Moto - 4GB RAM
- Both - 64GB storage with microSD slot
- Both - 4,000mAh battery w/10W charging
Both the Nokia 5.3 and Moto G8 feature the same Qualcomm-made processor, and the units we've tested both came with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage (with the ability to expand via microSD card).
That means you might sometimes need to wait a second or two for various apps and interfaces to load, and you do get slightly stuttering animations when scrolling through lists. It’s the same when playing games. Being a low powered phone with a relatively low resolution screen, game graphics looks a bit rough in terms of sharpness and frame rates, but we noticed a lot more stuttering and frame dropping on the Nokia phone compared to the Moto.
Pushing quite intense games like Asphalt 9 was a bit smoother on the Moto phone. We didn’t have as many instances where it stuttered badly, unlike the Nokia, which did a couple of times.
Either way, both are about as reliable as each other when it comes to scrolling through the interface and loading apps. Neither is lightning fast, but they do the basics well.
Battery life is solid on both. 4,000mAh is quite a big battery for a phone with a relatively low resolution display, and it comfortably gets through a full day on both phones. For light users, two days might even be possible.
- Android 10 on both
- Nokia part of Android One programme
What's great about these two phones is that they both run relatively pure versions of Android. Motorola's version has some additional features as part of its Moto Actions set of gestures and actions, but Nokia has the benefit of being part of the Android One program.
That means that when Google releases security patches each month, the Nokia gets the updates quickly, and is guaranteed to get up to two years of software updates. It's the closest you can get to a Pixel, without spending lots of extra money on a Pixel.
- Nokia - quad camera system
- 13MP f/1.8 primary
- 5MP ultra-wide
- 2MP macro and depth sensors
- Moto - triple camera system
- 16MP f/1.7 primary
- 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
- 2MP macro
- Moto shoots 4K video, Nokia only 1080
As well as having similar hardware specs, the two phones have relatively similar camera makeups too, but have approached the exact technical specs differently. Both of Moto's primary and ultra-wide lenses have higher resolution sensors than Nokia's.
Testing the two side by side, Nokia's image processing is - again - different to Moto's. We found that - as well as having narrower field of view on the two main cameras - Nokia's also produced richer, deeper colours and contrast. Not that it's always a good thing. It can look a little unnatural at times.
It did look washed out and faded when using the macro setting or the front facing camera on the Nokia though, and Moto's is capable of shooting 4K video, while Nokia's can't.
- Nokia - £149
- Moto - £179
If it's the lower cost you're looking for, Nokia's the cheapest option here. Its recommended retail price in the UK is £30 under the Moto G8's £180 price point. Although you might be able to find the latter at a cheaper price, depending on retailer discounts.
On the whole, both phones are quite similar. We found the Moto a smoother performer, it also has the better display of the two. And the design looks a bit more premium, although we do like the thinness of the Nokia, and the fact it comes with the Android One program is a bonus. It's also cheaper.
We think the Moto offers the best all-round package given our experience, but there's not a huge amount in it. If cost saving is important, the Nokia will serve you well.